Church staff rebuilding from tornado damage hand out gift cards to nearby neighborhoods

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – The devastation to the Real Life Christian Church is still scattered across Centerville Turnpike.

Heavy winds took down part of the building to the right of the entrance along with pieces of siding, which took off to an open field across the street.

However, church staff and volunteers were not focused on their own devastation on Monday.

Instead, they were down the street, helping those who had damage to their own homes.

“It’s one thing to lose a church but to have your house hit is very different,” says Brett Coates, Executive Director at Real Life.

News 3 followed church staff and volunteers through the Rock Creek neighborhood in Virginia Beach as they handed out gift cards.

They also went to the Kemp Bridge neighborhood in Chesapeake.

Coates says they handed out about $3,000 in gift cards and hope to do more.

The church puts aside 12 percent of their funds for various charities and groups.

Coates says he never expected to have to use that money for a tragedy, but the church is honored to do so.

“To us, it’s hard, but this has to be a new level of pain.”

If you would like to donate to the church, visit their website. You can also help residents in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach by clicking here.